Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County.  Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

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The expansion of Carousel Center in Syracuse could be at an end, at least for now. The developer of the mall complex that will soon be known as Destiny USA, is now calling this the final phase of the development.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city development agency found out yesterday that the developer was exercising a clause in an earlier agreement that would allow them to make this move.

A new era will soon begin in the life of the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse. A national management group will take over the operation of the convention center and some other downtown venues.

SMG, a private firm out of Philadelphia, will be responsible for booking events at the OnCenter, the War Memorial, the Civic Center, Alliance Bank Stadium, and the Everson Museum.

President Barack Obama has proclaimed that STEM education is a national priority.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

New York state is looking at ways to improve the STEM education the state's children receive. This kind of education has  become more important in recent years, because that's where the jobs are. However, recent statistics show U.S. achievement in these skills lags behind much of Europe and Asia.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

It's graduation season in Central New York.  But it's not just high schools and universities turning out graduates. It's also commencement time for some four-legged students.

Nine dogs, mostly German Shepherds, are now ready to hit the streets to help police catch criminals. The teams come from as far as from Niagara County in the west to Columbia County in the east, to take part in the police dog training program run by the Syracuse Police Department.

The dogs and handlers graduated during a ceremony at Syracuse's Inner Harbor last week.

Becoming co-chair of the Democratic Party in New York state will allow Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to do more of what she already does. Miner is expected to be elected co-chair of the party when members meet this week.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

New York state is now one of 19 states that has been granted a waiver that allows for more flexibility when it comes to the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

The change will let schools avoid a deadline requiring all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. 

The Federal Education Department approved the waivers for New York and eight other states earlier this week. Other states won waivers earlier this year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A major step in the clean up of Onondaga Lake is about to begin. Honeywell International will begin the dredging and capping of contaminated lake sediment this summer.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The first milestone of the Connective Corridor in Syracuse is now a reality. A revamped city park is now a featured link between downtown Syracuse and Syracuse University.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

All of New York state is now covered by a needle exchange program sponsored by the state health department.

Syracuse was one of the last communities to join the  program, and so far, it's working well.

The program's big silver van has a small sign that says, “Safety First: Syringe Exchange Program.” This is where IV drug users and others can exchange their dirty needles for  clean ones.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Syracuse area Republican Ann Marie Buerkle is taking a leading role in a new caucus in the House of Representatives that focuses on women.

Buerkle will be a vice chair of the Women's Policy Committee, made up of female Republican representatives in the House.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

SUNY ESF is showing off plants that will create a green roof on the new Gateway Center, which will open later this year.

This new green roof will almost be like visiting the shore of Lake Ontario.

amandabhslater / Flickr

Onondaga County could soon be saving rain in the suburbs.

Lawmakers are considering expansion of the "Save the Rain" program, which has already kept 125 million gallons of water out of the sewage treatment plant in the city of Syracuse.

Carl Wycoff / Flickr

If you are planning on hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend, expect some company. AAA expects an increase in holiday travel on the weekend that starts the summer travel season.

With a little more than a month to go before the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, recent polls show the three candidates vying for a chance to face Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the general election aren't well known, especially upstate.

One of those candidates is trying to change that.

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is well known on Long Island; Congressman Bob Turner has a natural base in New York City; that leaves attorney Wendy Long with the rest of the state.

Think your property taxes are too high?

Today's the day you can try to get those taxes down, by way of lowering what the town thinks your home is worth.

Some seniors are optimistic that a new senior center will rise in downtown Syracuse to replace the Ida Benderson Center that closed last fall due to budget cuts.

They're taking time to thank those who have helped them so far. Specifically, by serenading Syracuse common councilors.

There is a difference of up to 33 years of life expectancy depending on where you live in Central New York and there is no simple answer to creating equal health for all.

Economics, race and gender all figure into these health disparities but technology could play a major part in closing the healthcare gap found between many Americans.

Utica area lawmakers, activists  and residents are trying to save the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center.  The community is galvanizing its support of the facility, which has been in the area for over a century.

Ellen Abbott

The wife of former Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine is suing ESPN. Laurie Fine accused the sports network of libel in a news conference at a resort in Geneva today.

Fine, flanked by her two daughters, a son-in-law and nephew, told reporters that her life was destroyed after ESPN covered allegations that her husband had sexually abused two ball boys.

A mobile command center for the state's Department of Financial Services is rolling across New York state looking to help people who may be having trouble paying their mortgage. It brings foreclosure prevention specialists to urban areas that need them.

Ellen Abbott

The gowns may be blue, and Syracuse University's color may be orange, but commencement at the Carrier Dome this weekend will definitely have a green feel to it.  Commencement gowns are the latest environmental initiative on graduation day.

Urban schools in New York state face a special challenge. These schools need more funding to teach larger numbers of children, many of whom need special services because of poverty. At the same time, they find themselves dependent on local governments that are also going through tough budget times.

Ellen Abbott

Onondaga Community College continues to turn over information regarding the SRC Arena, and three other not-for-profit entities, to county lawmakers who requested it last week. The flap over this financial information and its availability to the public is the result of a new world of public/private partnerships.

More  projected sales tax revenue for the City of Syracuse could mean some new programs, including seed money for a new downtown senior center.  Lawmakers say they want  the extra spending to be an investment in the city.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A food co-op is sprouting up in the middle of Syracuse's south side.  It's a way to bring fresh and healthy food to residents of a neighborhood that can't always get it.

Syracuse First via Twitter

Syracuse First is using a social media strategy to push it's buy local message this weekend.

The very young and the very old were the focus of the Syracuse City Budget public hearing Wednesday night. Citizens had the opportunity to tell lawmakers what they think of Mayor Stephanie Miner's proposed $662 million spending plan.

As urban school districts grapple with massive budget deficit, some programs that aren't strict academics go up on the chopping block. A program in the Syracuse City School District, that teaches everything from sex education to stranger danger, is slated to be cut.

Onondaga Community College's reluctance to turn over financial information to county lawmakers regarding the new SRC Arena is creating some friction. It has become part of budget discussions between Onondaga County and the community college.

The Syracuse school district is asking for more staff layoffs. The district will make the request for more layoffs at a special school board meeting later this week.

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